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Week 5: Walk to Warm Up

Here in the Midwest, we are preparing for what the newscasters refer to as an "Artic Blast." That basically means our normally moderately cold temperatures are about to get super cold...subzero, in fact. In some areas, temperatures are expected to reach 50 degrees below zero, with wind chill factor. Wind chill is another way to say, it may be only 20 degrees below zero, but it feels like it is 50 degrees below zero. Either way, it's too cold for comfort. Of course, we are all making plans to stay warm over the next few days. I am making sure we have plenty of blankets and hot water. I even double checked this morning that my dogs' sweaters are ready to go. (Yes, my dogs wear sweaters, and they like them!) I am making sure I have a good supply of coffee and tea and soup and whatever warms my soul, my hands, and my feet. Photo by Jeanette R. Harrison, MPH One way to warm up is by walking. I am sure some people thought this was going to be about warming up fo

Week 4: Make Your Own Trail

Here I am in Week 4 of the Billon Steps Challenge. This week, I recognize that I have to actually make a conscious effort to exercise. I am finally reaching the level where I have to plan to walk instead of simply counting my steps for the day. It is a cold and rainy day here in the Kansas City area, so I don't want to walk outside. After lunch today, to ensure I was able to get my 4,000 steps completed, I decided to watch a television show on the DVR and to create a small walk routine during the show. As the show played, I stood and watched and walked forward and back in front of the television, much like many of the aerobic routines I have done in the past. Today, I didn't do lifts, or crunches, I simply walked. On the commercials, I walked laps around the basement. I am happy to report that I was able to complete over a mile on this little "trail" that I created in my house. I am also confident that I will be more than able to complete the few steps I have left b

Week 3: A Little More Effort

It is now 10:00 pm, and I just climbed into bed after walking laps around my bedroom. Yes, you read that correctly. I was walking laps around my bedroom so I could reach my 3,000 steps a day goal for this week. I surely couldn't let myself, my readers, and my fellow team members down by not increasing my goal again this week. Although 3,000 steps still is not that many compared to the miles I walked last summer, it does take a little more effort than walking around the house every day and easily clocking 2,000 steps. I can saunter around the house all day, picking up this, picking up that, letting my dogs out, getting a cup of tea, making dinner, looking out the window, or whatever random thing I am doing, and easily pick up 2,000 steps. Today, it was not so easy to get to 3,000 steps. Photo courtesy of First of all, I forgot to charge my smartwatch last night, so I had to wait until around noon to put it on. All the steps I did this morning making breakfast, pu

Week 2: Increase Your Goal

We had a beautiful day here in the Kansas City area. The sun was shining with a gentle breeze and a temperature of a spring-like 58 degrees. I decided it was a great day to get my walking shoes out and check out how my favorite walking trail was doing this winter. I powered up my smart watch, pulled on my sneakers, zipped up my hoodie, and walked to the park. I was so glad to have the chance to cure myself of cabin fever. I hit the sidewalk, ready for the wind, ready for the sun, ready for walking. As I walked along, I waved at neighbors, smiled at dogs, even bent down to pet a cat. Yes, I said it -- a cat (don't tell my dogs, though). I felt something happening...this expression was coming across my face by the end of the first block. I believe it was called a smile. I was experience joy and happiness. Walking has so many benefits, but one of them is that it boosts your mood. As you walk you release endorphins, and those endorphins make you feel happier. Walking also boosts yo

Get Your Walk On

Starting tomorrow, the American Public Health Association (APHA) is once again sponsoring the Billion Steps Challenge. The goal is to get more Americans walking and moving and engaging in physical activity. You can join my team, HHWWalkers, on Move Spring. Move Spring is a free app that you can download on your phone to track your steps. I will be using Move Spring as well as my smart watch to track my steps every day. The goal for the first week is to walk 1,000 steps a day. If you want to know how much that is, it is approximately half a mile. I find that I can easily walk 1,000 steps a day just walking around the house, work, or my neighborhood. I know there are those who can walk more than 1,000 steps a day, and they are encouraged to do so. However, I wanted to start small so everyone can join in increasing their physical activity. Last year, I started doing the Billion Steps Challenge in late spring. In fact, the challenge was almost over when I started. I initially started wal

The Story Behind "Cow In The City."

This past week, I finished writing, illustrating and self-publishing my first children's book. The book is about a cow named Henrietta who leaves the farm and decides to move to I-Moo-Wa City. She is excited about living in the city, but then she discovers the challenges of living somewhere new. The book is dedicated to my nieces and nephews, and a cow that got loose one day. That's when this all began. Almost 15 years ago now, I had finished my year long fellowship in executive administration. The organization was reeling from the effects of a no-confidence vote, and the CEO was about to retire. Many of the executives were worried about losing their jobs or how things were going to pan out for them. They were also concerned about this merger organization and what would happen to it following what turned out to be a years long battle. As a fellow, I was caught in the foray, being tossed between executives, hoping and praying that someone would hire me, and also worrying I

Sing Someone's Praises

I was a camp counselor during college. Since I was in college for nearly ten years, I gained a lot of experience as a counselor. Working at camps taught me some important life skills that I was able to use the rest of my career. As a camp counselor, you have to be up and energized and enthusiastic about everything every day. Picking up rocks off the hillside as a cabin? Super fun! Fantastic! Hiking through the woods on a rainy day? What an adventure! Campers not getting along? Figure out what they like about each other! One of my tricks to deal with a cabin of girls who didn't get along was to have them do an exercise. The exercise was to sit down one afternoon and write down 10 things at least they liked about every other girl in the cabin. They couldn't be superficial things like, "her hair is pretty, she is skinny, she is tall." The items had to be real things that were only about the person. The girls really took it seriously. Why? They wanted to hear the nic